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Art on the Road

The goal was simplicity, flexibility, quality, using little space and weight in the luggage. The kids and I planned to draw on the plane, at a cafe, in the hotel room, and on the train. I thought it would be a good experience to watercolor outdoors or at a cafe as well.

It was a long and magical trip. As we prepared in the weeks before, plans, packing lists, maps, travel confirmations and itineraries swirled through my head as I contemplated documentation. On my wish list, travel journals. Journals full of sketches and words. Journals that are enjoyed, savored, decorated. Journals that house stapled receipts and train tickets and photos and notes. Journals that hold thoughts at a point in time.

Here's what we brought to do art while in Europe for 3 weeks this summer.

Art supplies for me:

  • 2 - superfine black pittpens
  • 6 - .005 and .01 sakura microns in various colors
  • 15 - sakura gellyrolls in various colors
  • 1 - 5x8" sketch moleskine journal
  • 1 - 5x8" watercolor moleskine journal
  • 1 - set of travel watercolors
  • 2 - small brushes {I'd planned to get a brush which contained water inside, but didnt' get to that}

Art supplies for two kids (7 & 9):

  • 100 - sharpened colored pencils in a plastic box (combined 2 sets)
  • 1 - mini-pencil sharpener
  • 1 - kid scissors
  • 1 - mini stapler
  • 1 roll each - two-sided + regular tape
  • 1/3 ream - white bristol paper
  • 4 - lined 5x8" notebooks
  • 2 - unlined wirebound travel journals
  • 36 - papermate magic markers

Lessons Learned

Ultimately I didn't watercolor. It just didn't happen. The girls didn't use the tape, and for me one moleskine was enough, but extras are good to have. I was pleased with what we brought. The materials provided enough flexibility and choice.

My younger daughter focused on drawing pen & ink sketches of fairy worlds in her lined notebooks. My older daughter spent most of her creative time (after finishing Harry Potter V) drawing mandalas in her travel journal with vivid papermate markers.

Compass mandala, 5x8" sketch moleskine journal, drawn over a several days during our travels in Trier, Germany and Ghent, Belgium. Pittpen and sakura micron.

We drew in hotel lobbies, at outdoor cafes, waiting for meals at restaurants, in laundromats, in hotel rooms... as we drove across Germany, Austria, Belgium and The Netherlands.

Documenting their travels by journaling each night? It didn't happen. We walked so much each day and by the time we got back to the hotel each evening we were exhausted. Drawing and reading were just right, but writing seemed like work. We collected ephemera... train tickets, ticket stubs, receipts, maps, product packages... journal fodder. As it turned out, we simply documented via photography!

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Reader Comments (5)

Great review on art on the road! I'm going on a camping trip with my parents for the first time in yeaaaars, and am taking a small art journal. I've already done backgrounds on all pages, so I don't have to bother with that so much. So then it will just be a case of sticking in tickets, leaflets, maybe even pictures, and writing of course!

07.11.2009 | Unregistered CommenterEveline

Our travel kits are similar --watercolor pencils and a niji waterbrush, a set of gel pens, double-sided tape, scissors, and some sketching pencils. We collect brochures, etc., each day and also find spots to sit and draw. My girls get tired when traveling so I have sometimes taken an entire afternoon off to just spread out all the memorabilia and process the trip.

06.10.2010 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

We've failed in our ambitious journaling attempts in the past, too, but recently found a great simple journaling idea here:

The purchased ones look lovely--we made our own for a trip we took Memorial Day weekend and although it only took a few minutes a day for my 4-yr-old to write in it, they captured the lovely small moments of our travels in such a wonderful way. It was perfect. Individual sheets would be great to put in an album next to photos, too!

06.10.2010 | Unregistered CommenterKirstin

Beautiful artwork!

I made a little travel art kit for my kids to take when we travel or even just go for a hike. Very simple and a nice way for little ones to carry their stuff.

06.10.2010 | Unregistered CommenterElyse

You were traveling in my neck of the woods! I live 30 minutes from Trier in Luxembourg. Did you make it here? Or did you drive through it and blink :) We travel as often as we can here and always bring paper and pens for the girls. On our most recent trip (strasbourg, France) my daughter and I wrote a story together, we alternated sentences. It was great fun. Off to look at your travel posts!

06.12.2010 | Unregistered Commenterkaty

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